Many families do not immediately think ‘kid-friendly’ when they contemplate taking a trip to New Orleans. The vibrant city, however, has a lot to offer families when you are wondering what to see and do in New Orleans with the kids. It is not just Mardi Gras celebrations and beads galore. You will be impressed with all this city has to offer, from museums to amusement parks to historic buildings and streetcars, there are numerous family-friendly things to do.
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What to See in New Orleans – 10 Family Friendly Activities
1New Orleans Zoo
The Audubon Zoo of New Orleans offers a place to explore the natural world in the middle of the city. What kid doesn’t like to see all the animals at a zoo? Not only can you see the tigers and sea lions, but the outdoor theater also offers shows to give attendees an up close and personal encounter with some of the animals and reptiles at the zoo.
From the aviary to the Louisiana swamp, many different habitats and creatures are there for viewing and some even exhibits even have hands-on activities available. Bring your walking shoes because there are 86 acres to explore! Purchase your tickets ahead of time online and save $3 each; children are $17.95 and adults are $22.95.
2Audubon Aquarium of the Americas
Part of the Audubon Nature Institute is the Aquarium. There aren’t just fish at this aquarium! There is a penguin exhibit, an otter exhibit and even a seahorse exhibit. You can pet stingrays and hold parakeets. An exhibit on endangered sharks is opening soon, while the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi River exhibits are a constant. Tired of walking? Take a seat in the large theater and watch a state of the art film.
Tickets can be purchased online for a savings of $3 each; children are $17.95 and adults are $25.95.
3Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium
The third and final part of the Audubon Nature Institute is the Butterfly Garden and Insectarium. This is the largest museum in North America for bugs and their relations. It was voted a top museum for families by CNN, and will be sure to fascinate your children. Meet the bugs of Louisiana, see the metamorphosis of different bugs, or watch an animated film about bugs. Probably one of the top draws is the Joe W. and Dorothy Dorsett Brown Foundation Butterflies in Flight exhibit.
In this exhibit, visitors can walk through the garden watching the butterflies fly from flower to flower. They typically will fly right in front of you, or even rest on the finger or shoulder of kids and adults. Tickets are $13.95 for kids and $18.95 for adults.
If you want to visit all the Audubon Nature Institute locations, you can purchase a multi-pass for $34.95 for children and $44.95 for adults. With all of the different natural museums to explore, wondering what to see in New Orleans, or what to do, shouldn’t be an issue for tourists or locals.
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4Visit Cafe Du Monde
Visit the historic Cafe Du Monde for coffee and breakfast, or a midday snack. They’re open 24/7, so there’s never an excuse not to stop by. While there are eight different locations around New Orleans, the best experience is at the historic location in the French Quarter. While they serve many things on the menu, the most popular and famous food they sell are beignets. Beignets are fried dough covered in powdered sugar; it’s slightly similar to a donut, and they melt in your mouth. Don’t wear dark clothes when you eat them, or you’ll be covered in powdered sugar!
5Watch a Mardi Gras Parade
Can you truly say you’ve been to New Orleans if you haven’t watched a Mardi Gras parade? Granted, you have to go in March during Mardi Gras, but the parades aren’t just for grown-ups. Many of the parades take place during the daytime through neighborhoods and city streets. Kids love to see the costumes and floats and grab beads and candy that are thrown from the floats. For small children, grab a ladder seat so they can view the parade from up high. Even parade watchers can dress up, so let your children wear a mask or paint their faces in their favorite colors.
6Mardi Gras World
If you can’t make it to New Orleans in March, you can still have the Mardi Gras experience at Mardi Gras World. It’s what to see in New Orleans when you really want to do Mardi Gras at the wrong time of the year! More than 500 Mardi Gras floats are built here all year long, and kids and adults can see them being built.
They can also try on the Mardi Gras costumes, learn the history of Mardi Gras and even eat a King Cake. Tickets start at $14 for children and run to $22 for adults.
City park offers gondola rides, horse stables, and even the famous Carousel Garden Amusement Park. The amusement park has 16 rides including a roller coaster, a Ferris wheel and one of the oldest carousels in the United States (it began running in 1906!) It’s also very affordable for families, with tickets costing only $4 a ride, or $18 for unlimited rides.
The gondola rides can accommodate up to six people for roughly $140. The tour lasts about an hour, and takes you around City Park lagoons.
The is one of the last working steamboats on the Mississippi River. They offer different cruises for dinner, lunch or brunch options, with children under six being free. Jazz concerts and calliope concerts take place during the cruises, and you can learn the history of boating on the Mississippi River. Visit the Museum steam engine room to learn even more about the steamboat.
9Louisiana Children’s Museum
The Children’s Museum is one of the less expensive places to get out of the heat and have a great time, at only $10 for adults and children. Exhibits include a Lil’ grocery store, little Port of New Orleans, simple machines and bubbles.
There’s even a special section for children under three, so they don’t get run over by the older children. Children have a chance to learn about art or science, or just explore the safety zone. Parents can relax as their children explore in a safe environment.
10New Orleans Streetcar Ride
Want to explore the city without taking your car or walking for miles? Ride the historic New Orleans Streetcars.
The first line was installed in 1835, and the cars still in use today were first used in 1923. Try the St. Charles line from the French Quarter to St. Charles and South Carrollton to see the historic Georgian houses and shady streets. A round trip ride will take about an hour and a half, but you can also hop off at any of the numerous shops and restaurants along the way. Service is 24 hours, so you can make the ride in the daytime or the evening.
What to see in New Orleans is never a question you should ask. There is plenty to do and see for children and entire families. From educational yet fun visits to the Audubon museums to the interesting float building process at Mardi Gras world, it’s easy to figure out what to see in New Orleans. The challenging part will be narrowing it down to fit within your visit!
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Photo Credits: Alessandro Visentin | pop picnic | Brett Sayles